I will be the first to admit, math is not my strongest suit. When I was young, numbers scared me. I have always been a language girl. This is why I vowed to make an effort to make math fun for my own child.
I have found this is possible through homemade math games that do not require a lot of energy. Plus, I am proud to say that I am more than capable of counting to ten and simple addition, so I should relay this knowledge to my eager sponge of a son.
I’m all for promoting fun learning experiences with objects that I can mostly find around the house. After all, I still am thrilled when my son is amused for hours with the dog’s ball or a cardboard box.
It’s amazing what spectacular math games you can make for preschoolers with household objects and not much prep.
Here are my top 10 easy-to-do homemade math games for preschoolers:
1. Practice Counting with Hot Wheels, a Die, and a Box
My son loves cars. He is genuinely obsessed with wheeling around all three hundred of those suckers that sneak their way into my bed, hamper, shoes — you name it. Also, like I mentioned before, he adores boxes, so one of his favorite math games involves both.
It is quite simple: cut out a panel from a box and draw a road with squares. Label these squares in chronological order. Then each player simply rolls the die and wheels a car the number of spaces.
Addition can be integrated too. “You are now on 4, but you just rolled a 6, so now you are on 10.” So bust out the box, cars, and die, and start playing your way to Yale.
2. Learn Fractions with Pizza and Flashcards
This next one intertwines a math lesson with dinner by cooking pizza and playing a fraction game. Here are the steps:
Write basic fractions on flash cards then place them in a pile.
Next, each player picks a fraction card and cuts that fraction into the food. A preschooler with a knife would be quite Chuckyish, so parental help is necessary.
See how many cards you are able to complete without fully destroying your food.
3. Hopscotch Numbers
This is a somewhat advanced game. All you need for this twist on an old favorite is chalk and a rock. Draw a hopscotch in your driveway and label the squares with math equations – as opposed to typical numbers.
The twist is that in order to get to your next turn, you have to complete the equation that you jump on. What could possibly be easier than chalk and a rock?
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4. Muffin Tray Number Match with Puff Balls
At my house, we love muffins. Check that, we love the muffin tins. I haven’t yet found the time to bake, but muffin tins are handy for all sorts of activities.
This homemade math game requires numbers written on a piece of paper and then placed into a muffin tin. Then you take turns filling in the tin with objects based on the corresponding numbers. You can use puff balls, cotton balls, or whatever else you have lying around.
5. Create a Pretend Grocery Store
My parents own a grocery store, so I never pretended to be in one, but most children are not so lucky to be bagging bagels by age four. The grocery store is filled with math scenarios, so why not create your own? You can role play the cashier and customer.
All you need is a grocery store flier with pictures of grocery items and prices. You will have to cut out the pieces of the flier that shows which items are actually in your house. You also will need some real or fake money, depending on how generous you are feeling – or lazy.
Your kiddo picks an image from the flier, finds the object in the house, and then tries to buy it from you with money. The register is optional.
6. Popsicle Stick Match Game
I don’t know about you, but I love cheap art supplies. Did you know that you can get like a thousand popsicle sticks for a buck? These simple wonders can be utilized for math games too.
An easy preschool math game with popsicle sticks is number matching.
Draw pictures of shapes on one popsicle stick. For example, you could draw four circles.
Then write the number 4 on another popsicle stick.
Lastly, put all the sticks on the floor and take turns matching them. This easy-to-do game entertains even better than toilet paper.
7. Hold a Measuring Cup Water Race
In addition to boxes and cars, my son also loves water. He enjoys splashing in the water, pouring water into different cups, and more. This is why the measuring cup water race is a fun math game for us.
All you need is one bucket of water, two empty buckets, two measuring cups, and cards with measurements on them – I label the cards with 1 cup, 2 cups, etc.
Each player picks a card with a measurement and fills his measuring cup from the bucket of water.
Next, they run to their own empty buckets and dump the water out. The player to fill up his bucket first, wins.
8. Tape on the Floor Number Relay Race
If your kid is anything like my kid, she loves to move and run. This next game includes both of those, and all you need is painters tape. Your responsibility is creating various large numbers with tape on the floor.
One player shouts out random numbers, while the other player runs to the corresponding number on the floor and runs around the tape. If you want to make it into a competition, you can also time each other for more math fun!
9. Twister and Numbers
Who doesn’t love the game Twister? Why not create your own version for an easy-to-do math game that the whole family can enjoy?
All you need is a box, markers, and a deck of cards. You can also use your own Twister mat in place of the box and/or make your own cards.
To make the mat, cut out and tape together panels from a large box. Draw at least two rows of different colored circles, then write numbers in each circle.
You could have one row of five black circles labeled 1-5 and another row of red circles labeled 1-5; it is up to you. Using red and black is important though since those are the colors of playing cards.
Then you find all the cards in the deck that are Aces-5.
Now the scene is set, and each player picks a card. They can put any body part on the corresponding circle. For example, let’s say I pick a red 2. I then go put my foot on a red 2, and so on. Be prepared for a hilarious, educational, tangled time!
10. Flip the Pancake Equations
Don’t worry, you don’t have to cook for this one, but you do need a spatula. You actually make the “pancakes” by cutting out circles of cardboard. Then you write addition and subtraction equations on them. On the opposite side, you write the answer.
Here’s how it works: your little cook will pick a pancake and say the answer to the equation, then he will flip the pancake with the spatula. If he answered correctly, he gets to keep the pancake. If not, the other player gets to keep the pancake. The player with the most pancakes at the end, wins.
This is one of the most fun homemade math games for preschoolers who enjoy cooking and flipping things. Yes, it’s true, I enjoy these activities too.